Bio 101

It’s rarely current when I cover it, but always epic when I play it. That’s the motto around here. It’s not a retro or classic gaming philosophy, necessarily, but serves to remind that the best games, no matter when they came out, make memories worth writing about on a fucked up wordpress blog, to remain enshrined in the backwater subconscious of the internet until the end of time or some shitty merger or something.

I make nominal efforts to stay on top of gaming news, and occasionally a title catches my eye and stirs my fascination. Bioshock Infinite is one of those games, and I found myself trying to kick myself in the ass for not playing the first one all the way through when I had the chance, so to speak. I settled for stomping on my own foot and cashing in a birthday gift at the PSN store to download the original on PS3 for $20 – a very fair price, I might add. I must have ignored the first Bioshock because it was lent to me when I had just begun playing Grand Theft Auto IV, which is a full course dinner of ecstasy, making the cocaine rush of Bioshock somewhat superfluous for the time. But with Infinite on my mind, I thought it would probably be a good first step to get in on the conversation by getting down with what many people consider one the greatest games of all time (whether I’ve played it or not).

So I dipped back into Rapture and enjoyed a full romp through the great underwater funhouse, saving all the Little Sisters and trying to take it all in with the reverence due to a game of this ambition and presentation. It’s fucking beautiful, what can I say? It’s so fucking beautiful that it breaks your heart that you can’t enjoy the city as it stood when it was a functioning utopia. How nice it would be to chat with the blissful citizens of Rapture while strolling through the orchards of Arcadia on your way to the Steinman clinic for another cock augmentation! Stop off for a cold one at any of the fine drinking establishments and light the cigarette of a pretty girl with your fire plasmid. Visit the museum in the Proving Grounds with the lights on for once and not be harassed by missile turrets and crazed assholes signing “Jesus Loves Me” from the shadows all the god damn time.

My only major complaint about the game besides the occasional glitch was the lack of customizable controls, which is to say, my complaint was the controls. It was far too easy to waste healing items because they were square and circle buttons, which are far too easy to accidentally press in a fast-paced action game such as this. The square button additionally acts as a reload button for weapons as well as the “hack” button when you want to reprogram an enemy machine to be your ally. That only happens at very specific distances, though, which are easy to breach. I can’t tell you how many times my dude shot himself up with drugs when what he actually meant to do was reprogram a robot. Hey! That’s not like mixing up the shampoo and conditioner, or even the shampoo and toothpaste, and it’s shitty control mapping. Here’s my recommendation – it’s a bit Kingdom Heartsian, but hear me out. Make shortcuts by holding down an unused button like the D-pad directional buttons to bring up a sub-action menu on the HUD and then tapping one of those critical action buttons. You should be able to make your own macros with it like “arm electro plasmid and grenade launcher with proximity mines.” Or hell, just use those d-pad buttons to hack, play recordings, heal, and take drugs so that the main action buttons can be used for reloading and jumping and shit.

This is where some smart guy tells me I should be playing this game on a PC, and I say, “hark, did you also perceive the chirping of a dying friendless bird just now?” and merrily move on to the next topic.

Bioshock presents a morality question in addition to its commentary about free enterprise and all the intellectual stuffemabobs. It also allows you to do the one bad thing that Rockstar has yet to offer in any of its ultraviolent games: kill children. It was never a direct complaint I had against Rockstar, (“Hey, you assholes, how come I can’t murder fucking kids in this game?”) but it was a glaring omission from the otherwise increasingly realistic public settings of the GTA games. It might have been amusing to me at one point to plow through a school crosswalk (because I’m a sucker for ragdoll physics), but since that actually fucking happened here a year and a day ago, I just don’t have the same appetite for it. I still love me some senseless killing in GTA, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t deny that I’m going through some changes as I get older and let’s face it: dad-der.

After finishing the game the “good way”, my intent was to play through the game a second time and harvest the Little Sisters instead of saving them, but as the first scene where you make that choice drew near, I realized I had absolutely no desire to watch the animation of my dude taking the life of that little girl. Rescuing them is harrowing enough because they’re yelling “No, no, no!” and resisting your grip as you bring them back to life. I can’t imagine them reacting to their darkest fears coming true at such a tragically young age. There I said it. Yes, little dying bird, I am a fucking pussy who should stick to playing Disney games.

Next stop: Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD!

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